Vasectomy is a surgical procedure that prevents sperm cells from mixing with semen. It is considered a highly effective method of birth control.
Sperm cells are produced by the testes (testicles). Typically, the cells travel through ducts called the vas deferentia to mix with seminal fluid. Together, these components make up semen, the fluid that comes out of the urethra when a man ejaculates. (Note: The term vas deferentia is a plural form that refers to two ducts – one from each testicle. The singular term is vas deferens or simply vas.)
A vasectomy involves cutting the vas deferentia and tying or searing each end. As a result, sperm cells have no way of mixing with seminal fluid because they can’t reach it. Instead, sperm cells are absorbed by the body.
After surgery, men may need to wait a week or two for the wound to heal before resuming sexual activity (whether alone or with a partner). Patients should always check with their urologist to make sure they can safely engage in sexual activities.
During the recovery period, men may experience pain and swelling. Taking a pain reliever or applying a wrapped ice pack to the affected area can help. Men should also be careful not to put any strain on the wound and avoid heavy lifting.
It’s important to know that a vasectomy is not effective immediately. It takes time for sperm cells to clear after the procedure, so men should use another form of birth control until their urologist confirms they have a sperm count of zero. For most men, this takes about three months or 20 ejaculations. But for some, it takes longer, so it’s always best to have a doctor check.
Having a vasectomy shouldn’t affect a man’s sexual function or performance. Most men still feel sexual desire, get erections, ejaculate, and feel the sensations of orgasm just as they did before. Because sperm represents just a small portion of total ejaculate, men and their partners probably won’t notice a big difference in semen volume.
Some men worry that having a vasectomy will lead to erectile dysfunction (ED), but this is usually not the case as vasectomy does not interfere with erectile function. (Learn more about vasectomy and ED here.)
International Society for Sexual Medicine
“Can a vasectomy cause erectile dysfunction (ED)?”
Medical News Today
“What to know about sex after a vasectomy”
(October 21, 2019)
Urology Care Foundation
“What is a Vasectomy?”